Art dealer and artist see eye to eye: Selling art via jpegs
A new trend is emerging amongst gallery owners—one which enables buyers to add to their personal collection of potential masterpieces from the comfort of their own home. Typically dealers and gallery owners rely primarily on word of mouth and walk-in clients for the bulk of their sales, a tradition that has remained in place throughout the e-commerce boom, until now. Increasingly, art dealers are selling work online, most recently through emailed images of artwork sent to specifically targeted clients.
Many collectors find the Internet and digital images a useful research tool, but prefer to buy only after seeing the work first-hand, reported CNN.com. Notable Miami collector Don Rubell worries that some collectors who buy works online make their purchases solely by the reputation of the artist, rather than the quality of the work itself. There have been reports of galleries closing their show rooms, preferring to sell work solely over the Internet. This is still relatively rare; the majority of galleries that are using email use it as a extension of the special “previews” provided for certain collectors.
Before the opening of SAIC alumna Claire Sherman’s first solo exhibition this February, gallery owner Kavi Gupta emailed images of her paintings to collectors. As a direct result, her show was completely sold out before opening night. Since Sherman’s debut at Art Basel last year, “[W]e’ve been “selling her work based on digital images,” Gupta told The New York Times. At Art Basel, prominent Miami collector and real estate mogul Marty Margulies bought her work, providing a valuable boost to Sherman’s art world presence.
Although a work’s subtleties may be lost in a digital image, a potential buyer can get a general sense of the work before deciding either to travel to see it or to buy it outright. Gupta admitted to The New York Times that in digital images of Sherman’s work, one can “not see the energy of the brushwork.” Still, he prefers this method of selling because he does not have to depend on walk-ins as much and can establish contacts with international collectors.
Sherman agrees, telling F Newsmagazine that the large scale of her work lends itself well to online sales: “While digital images do not give you an idea of the surface of a work or the experience of scale, they allow your work to be seen more widely. They give people who live outside of Chicago an idea of what your work looks like without traveling or transporting the work. With my paintings, this is useful because of scale. It is very costly to ship larger paintings, and digital images can help someone get an idea of what you do. While they do not give a sense of the what it is like to actually experience the paintings and their surfaces, there are benefits to the speed and efficiency of using digital images.” But, Sherman “[does not] feel pressure[d] to make more work based on sales” and risk compromising her artistic process.
Her first solo exhibition, Slow Pan, is at Kavi Gupta Gallery on 835 W. Washington until March 17. In eight of Sherman’s large scale canvases, one as large as 84” x 96”, she depicts different scenes from “expansive arctic vistas to close-ups of the forest floor” as seen from a “lingering deliberate” camera, as stated on kavigupta.com.
An exportation or exploitation of culture? The Louvre and Guggenheim in the United Arab Emirates
Abu Dhabi, the capital of the oil-rich United Arab Emirates, has called on the Louvre and the Guggenheim to help develop a cultural district on Saadiyat Island, 500 yards off the coast of the city. The two museums will lend their names, along with works from their collections to two new institutions, which will be accompanied by a maritime museum, a national museum, and a performing arts center.
The Abu Dhabi tourist authority has created a corporation that will finance the construction and operation of these projects. The tourist authority will not, however, be borrowing any works from the museum that could be considered to be morally questionable by Muslim visitors, such as sculptures or paintings depicting nude figures.
The Guggenheim’s Abu Dhabi museum will focus on contemporary art and is being designed by none other than architect Frank Gehry. The Louvre’s museum, with a collection of classical art, will be designed by Jean Nouvel.
To the surprise of few, the very French institution has come under fierce criticism for its involvement in the project. La Tribune de l’Arts has gained over 1,400 signatures on a petition which accuses the Louvre of placing economic priorities ahead of cultural ones. The Louvre will receive around $1 billion for their involvement in the project.
The New York Times reported Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, Chairman of Abu Dhabi’s tourist and development authority, as hoping the art district created by the museums will become the “cultural hub of the Middle East.”
Using art to combat crime? Art gallery in Rio de Janeiro slum
In Vila Cruzeiro, a favela in Rio de Janeiro, gun crimes and drug trafficking are part of the everyday life. The youth are armed; some carry grenades. Bullet holes cover the buildings. In a recent, well-known case, Brazilian journalist Tim Lopes was kidnapped and brutally murdered. And in February, an open-air art gallery was established, where residents paint murals on the outside of their homes.
The gallery was developed by Jeroen Koolhaas, a Dutch illustrator for The New Yorker, and Dre Urhahn, an art director from Amsterdam. Urhahn hopes that the trend will catch on in other favelas, and that people will begin to visit for reasons aside from purchasing cocaine. Koolhaas and Urhahn told The Guardian that they ultimately hope to inspire local children “to pursue a career in a creative field” and to paint a single, unified image on an entire hillside favela. It will be a tough feat, especially when a teenage drug trafficker said that he’s “never going to be painter—it’s too late for me to leave this life,” reports The Guardian.
Some foreigners and tourists see favelas as “exciting, interesting, and romantic” places to visit, reports The Christian Science Monitor, and those gallery’s owners anticipate tourist, as well as local, foot-traffic.
Always a Battle: Money for the Arts
Getting more funding for the arts is an ongoing issue. Since 1992 and the “culture wars” surrounding debates over free speech and censorship, funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has been reduced significantly. President Bush’s Fiscal Year 2008 budget proposal recently put forth a small increase of $4 million, bringing the total to $128.4 million for the NEA, which is about $48 million less than the 1992 budget.
This year the NEA also did not request more money to pursue new initiatives as it has done in the past. The Washington Post claims that “cultural organizations are in budget limbo,” because both the House and the Senate did not pass the fiscal 2007 budget.
Arts for LA, an organization based out of Los Angeles, is calling on Congress for more arts funding. The group is petitioning Congress to increase “funding for the nation’s arts programs” to $176 million. The online petition, found on the Americans for the Arts website, capwiz.com/artsusa, argues that this increase “would restore the agency’s budget to the high point that it reached in 1992”—an increase of $52 million.